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Rugged automation controller runs Linux

Feb 6, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

United Electronics Industries (UEI) is shipping a rugged Linux-based programmable automation controller based on a PowerPC processor. The UEIPAC Cube is available with extensive I/O options, and targets unmanned vehicles, environmental control, and test stand applications such as hardware-in-the-loop… simulation.

(Click for larger view of EUIPAC Cube 600)

The UEIPAC Cube is described as a complete, self-contained controller that obviates the need for a separate PC. This is said to increase reliability and ruggedness, while decreasing cost and complexity, and ensuring long-term availability.

The Cube was designed for control applications requiring extreme ruggedness and reliability, UEI says. It has been tested from -40 to 85 degrees Celsius, at 5G vibration, 50G shock, and up to 70,000 feet, the company claims.

The Cube is based on a Freescale MPC5200 clocked at 400MHz. It runs Linux from an unspecified amount of onboard flash memory. It also offers 128MB of onboard flash for user applications, expandable via an SD card slot.

I/O includes two Ethernet ports, a serial port, an “inter-PAC sync interface,” and either three or six slots designed to accommodate UEI's “PowerDNA” I/O boards. The company says it now offers some 20 PowerDNA expansion boards, including analog input, analog output, digital I/O, counter/Timer, quadrature Encoder, serial I/O, CAN bus, and ARINC-429 interfaces.

The 3-slot model (pictured at right) measures 4 x 4 x 4 inches, while the 6-slot model (pictured above) measures 4 x 4 x 5.8 inches.

The Cube comes with a Linux cross-development environment supporting development hosts running Windows/Cygwin, as well as popular Linux operating systems.

Shaun Miller, president, stated, “The combination of small size, industrial ruggedness, and wide variety of I/O interfaces is unmatched in the industry. The UEIPAC is based on a standard Linux operating system, ensuring long term viability, high performance, excellent support, and straightforward application development.”


The Cube and its Linux cross-development environment are available now. Pricing was not disclosed.

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